Shaw, William (1854-1931)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by W.C.H. Fell

On Monday, July 6th, 1931, after an illness of but a few days’ duration, the Rev. William Shaw passed to the Higher Life. He had gone out and about apparently in his usual good health and strength, until the Friday previous, and the sudden Home-call came as a great shock to his many friends and loved ones. By his passing, our Church has lost a loyal Minister who for forty-four years laboured acceptably and with success for the Cause he loved.

Born at Rotherham, on December 6th, 1854, he had the advantage of starting life in a godly home. His mother, an active Church worker, introduced him in early, boyhood to the fellowship of our Church. At six years of age, he became a Sunday School scholar, at fourteen he made the supreme decision, and at that age he became a member of the Primitive Methodist Church—a membership that was never severed until, sixty-three years later, God called him to his reward. Very quickly he found his sphere of usefulness. At sixteen years of age he became a Sunday School teacher in our Rawmarsh Church, and was given a “Note” in preparation for the Preachers’ Plan. At twenty, he was recommended for our Ministry, and accepted by the Leicester Conference of 1875.

He had not the advantage of a College training, but his early education had been received at Rawmarsh Grammar School, and in addition to the usual curriculum he had studied Surveying, Book-keeping, and Chemistry. He thus describes his Candidates’ examinations: “My examinations were at the old Sutton Street Bookroom. Revs. George Lamb, Henry Clark, John Dickenson, Charles Smith, and James MacPherson were the examiners. They, with the caretaker, formed the whole congregation to which we (four candidates) preached. After walking from Sutton Street to Bethnall Green, we all entered the Ministry together.” After mentioning the names of the other three candidates he adds: “It is a remarkable thing that four candidates should go into the work direct from one Circuit in two years.” 

He was called to Superintend the Horncastle Circuit at the close of probation in 1879, and for forty years he spent himself in the active Ministry of our Church. It was his joyous privilege to lead many to Christ, and particularly amongst the young people he exercised a winsome and effective ministry.

On Superannuating in 1919, he was asked by the Missionary Secretary to take oversight of the New Edlington section of the South Yorkshire Mission, which he did for two years. Later, he had charge of the New Ferry Church, Birkenhead Second Circuit, for some months, and following this he laboured on the Brinkworth Circuit. On coming to reside at Poole, he was given charge of the Ferndown Church, Bournemouth Second Circuit, where he laboured for about six months,

His years of retirement, were thus fully occupied with the work of the Church. When not actually in charge of a Church he gave his services unstintingly to his own and neighbouring Circuits. His passion was to preach, and a few days before he died he had conducted and preached at a service at our Branksome Church with great acceptance. His gift of public prayer was quite extraordinary, and his sermons gave evidence of careful preparation and wide reading. When not preaching, he was a regular worshipper in our Poole Church, and this Means of Grace was very dear to him. Shrewd, active to the last; with sight, hearing, and every faculty unimpaired, genial, and generous in his support of all good causes, he was permitted to put in a long day’s work for His Master, and it can be truly said that he gave his best.

The interment took place. in the Poole Cemetery on Friday, July 10th, and was preceded by a service in our Poole Church, of which he had been a member. The Rev. W.C.H. Fell conducted the service, the lessons were read by the Rev. Alfred Sutcliffe, representing the District Committee, and the Rev. A.E. Reavley. The Rev. W.J. Ward, representing the General Committee, delivered the address, and the Rev. A.W. Welford offered prayer. Amongst others present were the Revs. J.W. Gregory, J.W. Fish and J. Lindley. The prayers at the Committal Service were offered by the Rev. J.W. Fish.

To the widow and sorrowing family our sympathies go out. But the blow that fell upon us all when we heard that our respected brother had been called home, is softened by the reflection that for so long a time his life was spared and spent in useful service. 

“Father, in Thy Gracious keeping,
Leave we now our loved one sleeping.”


William was born on 6 December 1854 at Tickhill, Yorkshire, to parents Henry Shaw, a farmer, and Annie Elizabeth Wilcox.

He married Sarah Durdy (1854-1921) in the summer of 1879 in the Worksop Registration District, Nottinghamshire. Census returns identify seven children.

  • Florence (1880-1955) – married Arthur Patrick Sparling Rockett, a gentleman’s outfitter (1911), in 1905   Horncastle
  • George Henry (1883-1946) –  an architect & surveyor (1911)
  • Frank William (1884-1917) – an assistant draper (1911); red in WW1        
  • Robert Robinson (1886-1957) – a cabinet maker (1911)              
  • Charles Edward (1887-1966) – a postmaster (1931)          
  • Reginald (b1889)  – a clerk (1911)            
  • Alfred Percy (1891- 1940)  – assistant in currier & leather store (1911)   

He married Margaret E Godwin in the spring of 1928 in the Beaminster Registration District, Dorset.

William died on 6 July 1931 at Parkstone, Poole, Dorset.


  • 1875 Burton on Trent
  • 1876 Loughborough
  • 1878 Nottingham III
  • 1979 Horncastle
  • 1881 Boston
  • 1884 Burton on Trent
  • 1888 Ripley
  • 1890 Pudsey
  • 1892 Mansfield
  • 1895 Pontefract
  • 1898 Selby
  • 1900 Easingwold
  • 1903 Banbury
  • 1906 Gloucester
  • 1909 Salisbury
  • 1912 Maidenhead
  • 1915 Newark
  • 1919 Doncaster (S)


PM Minutes 1932/330

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

Comments about this page

  • Rev William Shaw is my Great Great Grandfather.
    Thank you for this thorough and detailed page.

    By Mr Gavin Owen (10/07/2023)

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